Here are a couple of articles from years past that describe the changes in Fort Campbell's rail line.
Rail Yard Furthers Deployment Ease for 101st
27 June 1999
Meeting the goal of deploying anywhere in the world within 36 hours recently became somewhat easier for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) with the completion of a new rail yard on post.
Moving tons of equipment from Fort Campbell to an area of conflict is a massive undertaking that is carried out via railroads.
In February, construction was completed on a $12 million Rail Marshalling Area that centralized the loading of equipment while reducing the time necessary for the process.
"We know the rail yard is dramatically affecting deployment loadings," said Mike Bowers, a civilian with the Department of the Army's Installation and Transportation Office. "Before, we had to take the time to pull full (rail) cars out and replace them with empty cars."
Until the rail yard was completed, loading occurred at nine different ramps on post and only 63 rail cars could be loaded at one time. The logistics of keeping the process running smoothly was quite a chore with only three locomotives on post.
"Now, we can load 210 rail cars at one time," Bowers said.
A typical deployment requires about 175 to 210 rail cars and 198 cars are presently on post, with that total expected to be increased to 241 by the end of fiscal year 2000, he said.
"Before, in a 24-hour period, we could load about 120 rail cars," he said. "Now, we can load 200 in that time. That's about the size of a task force deployment."
Not only does the new facility save four to six hours of loading time, it also avoids inconveniences to the post community.
Bowers said when equipment was being loaded before at various locations on post, streets were blocked by rail cars, causing motorists to take alternate routs.
"Fort Campbell is a city in itself, so it's sort of like going to any other city with a train. Nobody wants to be stopped at a crossing," he said. "This way, we can be friendlier to the city."
The new facility makes the chore of loading rail cars more soldier-friendly with ample lighting to keep the process moving round-the-clock.
A huge 46,000-square-yard concrete tarmac provides a staging area with no mud in wet weather. It even has templates painted on the surface to measure the lengths of equipment to be loaded.
"If you find out the last gun is not going to fit on the car, you have to start backing everything up," Bowers said. "If all the trucks and trailers don't fit in the template, you can deal with it before you ever start putting it on the car."
The loading process also provides quality assurance as the vehicles and equipment must pass through five check points where leaks or mechanical problems can be detected.
"It's best to catch them here. These are things that could be a real problem at the other end," Bowers said.
Golden Spikes Open New Rail Spur
SPC Kris Adams
Courier staff writer
25 October 2001
Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield and Maj. Gen. Richard A. Cody, division and post commander, drove two railroad spikes Friday morning, bringing to a close a project which began in 1993.
The driving of the spikes represented the ceremonial opening of the new railroad connector that joins Fort Campbell's Department of Defense rail line with the CSX rail line in Hopkinsville. The connection was originally scheduled to be operable in December, but due to recent events, the project was sped up to assist Fort Campbell should it need to deploy.
The speedy completion of the project was especially important to Fort Campbell because it involved taking up the old track and moving it to the new site. This left Fort Campbell with no way to move their rail cars prior to the completion of the connection.
The new rail connection has advantages for Fort Campbell, as well as the city of Hopkinsville.
"This spur really enhances the strategic deployability of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)," Cody said. "As you know, we've got a huge rail marshalling area down at Fort Campbell that can handle up to 250 rail cars at any one time, which means we can load up very quickly. With the completion of the spur, this allows us to fully realize the benefits of having that rail marshalling area as well as by-passing and not going through downtown Hopkinsville with 250 rail cars when we deploy."
During the Gulf War, traffic was often tied up for hours in downtown Hopkinsville while equipment was deployed for use during the conflict.
"If the 101st has to deploy, they have to find a way to get the equipment (to where it needs to go)," said T.C. Freeman, president, Tennessee/Kentucky Chapter, Association of the United States Army. "During the Gulf War it was difficult because they had to go right through downtown Hopkinsville and traffic would be disrupted for hours and hours. When the event happened on September 11, our congressional delegation worked very hard... to get the rail spur completed so if it were necessary for the division to deploy, they could have a way to get there."
Hopkinsville Mayor Rich Liebe said in providing security for the country, Fort Campbell provides security for the surrounding communities.
"(The spur) enables the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to be more proficient at their movement," Liebe said. "For that reason, it's beneficial to the community."
Whitfield was a key player in the acceleration of the railroad helping obtain funding for the project. He said the project is necessary for what he called the Army's premier group of soldiers, which include the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
"The units at Fort Campbell are the premier groups in the U.S. Army today and our nation calls upon them time and time again," Whitfield said.
"After the sad events of September 11, it became more apparent that we needed to expedite the completion of this Fort Campbell railroad connector. Through the efforts of everyone... we were successful in obtaining the funds to expedite the completion of this connector. It's vitally important that we do so, because once again, our nation may be calling upon the premier troops at Fort Campbell."
Design for the connector project began in June 1993 with the project being put out to bid in September 1999.
During the final 28 days of the construction project, there were 6,800 man-hours worked; 3.4 miles of track installed; 11,360 railroad crossties installed; 67,000 spikes driven; and 14,260 tons of rock ballast placed to complete the connector before the final golden spikes could be driven.